Ford Hits Trump On Travel Ban, Adding New Twist To Delicate Relationship – Forbes
Ford Motor, which has been trying to curry favor with President Donald Trump lately over trade issues, did an about-face on Monday, criticizing his new immigration restrictions, saying the policy flies in the face of the company’s values.
Executive Chairman Bill Ford and Chief Executive Mark Fields sent an email to Ford employees Monday assailing the president’s 90-day ban on immigrant travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.
“Respect for all people is a core value of Ford Motor Company, and we are proud of the rich diversity of our company here at home and around the world. That is why we do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company. We are not aware, to date, of any Ford employees directly affected by this policy. We will continue working to ensure the well-being of our employees by promoting the values of respect and inclusion in the workplace.”
The statement was poignant in several ways. One, Ford is based in Dearborn, Mich., a diverse community outside Detroit that is home to a large Arab population, both Christian and Muslim, from many different Middle Eastern countries. About one-third of Dearborn residents claim Arab heritage and many of them work for Ford.
Second, the statement was jointly issued by Fields, who was raised Jewish, and Ford, whose great-grandfather, Henry Ford, was one of the most notorious anti-Semites in American history. Their leadership is a testament to Ford’s inclusive and diverse culture today.
UAW President Dennis Williams also issued a statement against the policy: “We are a nation of immigrants and our union would not exist if immigrants and non-immigrants alike hadn’t fought in solidarity for the rights we cherish today. We must protect national security while remaining true to the very values that have made us a great nation. The UAW opposes discrimination of any kind and denounces any policy that judges people based on their religion or nation of origin.”
While many Silicon Valley companies, including Tesla Motors, denounced the new policy over the weekend as chaos ensued at several international airports, Ford is the first Detroit automaker to comment.
U.S. automakers have been walking a delicate line with Trump, who wants to put “America first” and is pressuring auto companies to move jobs back to the United States, especially from Mexico. Last month, Ford cancelled plans for a $1.6 billion small-car factory under construction in Mexico, which was widely seen as a concession to Trump, even though Ford said it no longer made business sense because of a drop in demand for small cars. At the same time it said it would expand a factory in Michigan, adding 700 jobs.
General Motors and Fiat Chrysler have also responded to pressure from Trump by promising more jobs in the U.S. Executives from all three U.S. automakers meet with Trump last week to discuss economic issues.
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